Zion Canyon, Zion National Park
May 29, 2011
After briefly settling in to our rooms, we went out to the street to catch Springdale's free shuttle to take us to the Zion National Park Visitor Center. My feeling is that Springdale is the best of the service towns near National Parks that we encountered. Sitting right at the edge of Zion Park, it provided the shuttle to coordinate with the National Park's free shuttle service up Zion Canyon.
The city shuttle dropped us off at the end of its route at about 4:30pm and we crossed a footbridge across this rapid stream, which is the North Fork, Virgin River that comes out of Zion Canyon.
We waited at the visitor center for the park service shuttle up the canyon.
We had decided to ride the shuttle all the way out to the last stop, the Temple of Sinawava, and assess which stop to make on the way back. It turns out that the Temple of Sinawava stop was quite dramatic, so we decided to hike out on the trail that led from this stop along the Virgin River toward the narrow part of the canyon "The Narrows". It was a pleasant ride out through the canyon to get there.
Elyse, Jordan, Brenda and Darla head out on the paved pathway toward the river.
From the path we looked up at these massive red stone walls, with a waterfall feathering down from high up on the rock.
At this point on the North Fork Virgin River we could go onto a sandy area and explore the water's edge. The high rock walls stood above us.
Darla and the girls stand by the river with trees and a rock wall across from them. Those trees are shown in the photo above right to show the scale of the enormous rock wall that stood over them. The small waterfall is almost vaporized by the time it gets to the bottom.
Behind the girls and across the river is the great wall where the waterfall is. At right above for size comparison is the red rock wall along the path we are going to follow. Note the hikers by the rail fence at bottom which lines the hiking trail.
Our hike along the side of the Virgin River was taking us deeper into the canyon toward the "Narrows". Behind us we could now see the top of the white flat-topped mountain named The Great White Throne.
There were places along the path where water was seeping out of the rock and forming hanging gardens and small clear pools. It was explained to us that the upper rock layers high on the mountain were porous and held a considerable amount of water. Closer to the bottom, the water encountered denser, less permeable rock, and the water pressure then forced some of the water out the surface, helping to sustain a unique plant system.
We continued on the fine paved trail that clung to the wall overlooking the North Fork Virgin River.
There were lots of wildflowers growing from the walls of the trail. Those seen beside Elyse, Jeff and Darla at left are yellow columbines. The flower above left may be some variety of columbine. At right above is probably some variety of monkeypod.
One thing you can say about Zion National Park. There are plenty of rocks to climb on!
As we start back out of the canyon, the late afternoon sun is making thre rocks glow red. Brenda is almost lost in the expanse of the rocky canyon in the photo at left.
As we reached the trailhead to catch the park shuttle, the high rock walls looked like they were aflame.
This mountain scene was our view as we boarded the shuttle for the nice ride back down the Zion Valley. We had seen a lot since we left the Kaibab Lodge on the North Rim this morning.